RALEIGH – As President Trump stated on whitehouse.gov, “Our history is rich with amazing stories of strong, courageous, and brilliant women.”
He went on to say, “Time and again, women have demonstrated resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges.” This didn’t occur overnight and certainly not without strife and sacrifice.
Now, an entire month is dedicated to honoring women in history. The week beginning March 7, 1982 became “Women’s History Week.” Womenshistorymonth.gov states that in 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”
Many women have overcome the once-common prejudice of being recognized as the weaker sex and having to work twice as hard to prove themselves and gain acceptance for their accomplishments.
Women such as Susan B. Anthony (powerful organizer for the women’s movement), Elizabeth Blackwell (first American woman awarded a medical degree by a college), Pearl S. Buck (first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature), Marie Curie (first woman physicist), Amelia Earhart (first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean) and Rosa Parks (strong advocate for human rights) set the historical groundwork not only for important discoveries and world-wide fame, but were forerunners for the advancement of nontraditional professions for women.
Law enforcement once was, and to some degree still is, a nontraditional profession for women. As of 2010, Shannon Woolsey had been a patrol officer for ten years with the City of Town and Country Police Department. She well knows the challenges for women in policing.
In an article by Woolsey, Challenges for Women in Policing (2010), she said that women were often viewed as mothers with badges and that peer acceptance is one of the greatest pressures operating within police organizations. She said that it could be very discouraging and distressing to fail to achieve ‘good officer’ standing.
Woolsey stated that “Women who are considering a career in law enforcement need to know that, should they choose to become a mother, their job will not be in jeopardy.” She goes on to say, “The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act is designed to guarantee women the right to participate fully and equally in the workplace while also not denying them the right to have a family.”
In his article, State Capitol Police’s First Female Officer Blazed a Trail for Others to Follow (2018), Clyde Roper, Communications Officer, stated, “The women who were the first to serve at their departments and who convinced sometimes skeptical brother officers they could hold their own still deserve our thanks.” Roper wrote about one such officer, Mae Thompson Carpenter.
Carpenter retired from State Capitol Police (SCP) in 1996. Roper shared some of her accomplishments that made her a trailblazer. She was the first female officer to join the agency in 1977, the first female supervisor for SCP, the first female officer at SCP to earn an Advanced Law Enforcement Certification and the first female to retire from SCP. Carpenter was one of the first nine instructors, and the only female, to teach Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) in Johnston County when the BLET program was started at Johnston Community College.
In the article, State Capitol Police Chief Glen Allen stated, “Mae Thompson Carpenter was a dedicated and valued officer at a time when female officers were rare in the profession.”
As for her work Carpenter stated in the article, “It wasn’t always easy, but I enjoyed every day I went to work. Every day was different.” Carpenter added, “Take something as simple as raising the flags over the Capitol. It could be tough when you were up on the roof and it was cold and slick with the rain or some snow. I was the first woman to raise the flags over the State Capitol. I considered that a great honor and still do.”
Through her courage, flexibility and skill in meeting a variety of challenges, Carpenter continues to be an inspiration to women everywhere, following in the footsteps of the trailblazers that came before.
To read more visit Mae Thompson Carpenter